Speak Fondly held-off Honesta and Perignon to deliver trainer Gai Waterhouse her eighth victory in the 2015 Flight Stakes at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Speak Fondly jumped from the gates cleanly and she was settled just behind stablemate Flamboyant Lass in the early stages of the race, while Honesta and Perignon were both settled towards the tail of the field.
Jockey Tommy Berry took Speak Fondly to the lead at the top of the straight and she looked like a sitting shot with 200 metres left to run, but she fought back bravely to record her maiden win at Group 1 level in the Flight Stakes.
Berry admitted after the Flight Stakes that he did not think that Speak Fondly completely ran out the mile, but it was her toughness that was able to get her home in the final stages of the Group 1 event.
“It is magic, especially when you are in close finishes,” Berry said.
“It is the best feeling in the world.
“Full credit to Gai, she has had this filly flying since day one.
“To be honest I’m not sure if she ran the mile out that well today, but she was just tough.
“I remember saying during the week that she is very similar to Sweet Idea and if you go back and watch a few of her replays they are exactly the same.
“She didn’t want to get beaten, it was as simple as that.
“She was a beaten horse at the 2000 and it didn’t feel like she ran the mile out at all, but she was just too good for them.”
Waterhouse was extremely bullish about the chances of Speak Fondly in the lead-up to the Flight Stakes and she admitted she was concerned that Honesta was going to beat the talented filly in the final stages of the race, but was thrilled that the daughter of Northern Meteor had been able to hang on and record a brave victory.
The leading trainer paid credit to the ride of Tommy Berry and she indicated that Speak Fondly may even be able to go to another level when she returns to the races in the autumn, with a race like the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) already on the agenda for the three-year-old.
“I am over the moon,” Waterhouse said.
“It is great to see Tommy back in the saddle there and you can’t take anything away from her.
“She was there idling along and the grey was breathing down her neck and I thought heavens we are going to get beaten here and she just gave that little bit.
“You only need to give that little bit to win these races and that is what she did, gosh she is good.
“The form out of that Golden Rose is top class, she will come back and she will go on to win the Coolmore Classic.
“That is how good she is.”
Honesta produced another fast-finishing performance for a very game second, while Perignon returned to her best form to round out the placings.
Waterhouse has now won the Flight Stakes an historic eight times after previously taking out the race with Assertive Lass (1996), Danglissa (1999), Ha Ha (2001), Lotteria (2004), Fashions Afield (2005), Cheeky Choice (2006) and More Joyous (2008).